It may seem hard to understand how one could go bankrupt selling iPads and MacBooks in one of Europe’s richest countries, but that is what happened Tuesday to iCentre, the largest Apple reseller in the Netherlands, writes Matt Steinglass in Amsterdam.
A judge in the Dutch town of Haarlem proclaimed the 34-store chain bankrupt on Tuesday, after a week of negotiations between the company, its creditors and potential buyers failed to produce a rescue plan. And on closer inspection, iCentre’s fate is not so hard to explain. Like other Apple resellers, iCentre was coping with a long-term shift from notebook and desktop computer sales towards smartphones and tablets, which have lower profit margins. Read more
Funding Circle, a UK-based online marketplace where individuals lend directly to small businesses raised $16m of Series B financing from joint investors Index Ventures and US-based Union Square Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $21m. Launched in August 2010, the company now facilitates around £1m in loans each week. The company is planning to use the funds to double its staff over the next year.
Dragonplay, a Tel Aviv-based games developer raised $14m in a Series A funding from Accel Partners. Dragonplay specializes in makes card, casino and board games for smartphones and social networks and is best known for Live Holdem Poker Pro, which has more than 2m monthly active players. The company will use the investment to expand its portfolio of games. Read more
The frenzy to invest in mobile payments providers continues with Boku, the San Francisco-based start-up raising $35m, in a funding round led by Telefónica Digital. It will take the total raised by the mobile transactions company to more than $75m since 2008.
Investors in this round also included New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Read more
A little bit of much-needed consolidation is finally taking place in the European Venture Capital industry. On Wednesday DFJ Esprit and Tempo Capital announced plans to merge their secondary investment businesses.
Tempo is a specialist in this market of buying existing venture capital investments, and DFJ has been dipping its toes in since 2007 when it bought out Cazenove’s venture capital fund. Read more
Venture capital investors appear to be growing increasingly wary of European companies. In 2011, they put just E4.4bn into 1,012 start-ups in the region, a 14 per cent drop from the previous year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.
This was the lowest annual deal count since Dow Jones began tracking investments in Europe in 2000. Read more
When Acer last March unceremoniously ousted its then-chief executive Gianfranco Lanci, it was not an amicable parting, with both sides apportioning blame on the other for the split.
But if the Taiwanese company had thought they were rid of Mr Lanci by forcing his resignation, then they are sorely mistaken. Mr Lanci was this week appointed the head of Europe, Middle East and Africa by none other Lenovo, Acer’s Chinese rival. Read more
This summer has seen some interesting blog posts from the venture capital community on the “rise of the super angels” – seasoned entrepreneurs who’ve cashed out and are reinvesting in the next generation.
Seedcamp, the European investor and events programme, is a big part of that story. Next week will see the fourth Seedcamp week in London, with 23 young companies jostling for up to €50,000 in investment and expert mentoring in what’s been dubbed the “X Factor for startups”.
But the increasingly active angel community means that Seedcamp has found itself facing competition too. Read more
It is another change of tactics in a war that has been going on for 50 years. This week, consumer electronics companies led by Apple, HP, Sony, Panasonic and Research In Motion, broke off the latest round of talks to reform the Europe’s convoluted system of private copy levies.
The copy levies are surcharges placed on devices such as MP3 players and printers by 22 European countries, to compensate writers, artists, and musicians for small amounts of personal copying of their material. It is not to be confused with illegal filesharing; the copy levies are intended to cover handfuls of copies in the private sphere, which many countries allow. Read more
Tech entrepreneurs are fleeing from social networks and advertising revenue streams and moving into business applications, according to Seedcamp, the start-up investor that holds its annual event in London later this month.
Seedcamp – which was founded by Index Ventures’ Saul Klein and Reshma Sohoni, formerly of 3i – has seen advertising-based business models drop from 30 per cent to 10 per cent of the 1,500 entries to its Pop Idol-style investment contest since 2007.
By contrast, marketplaces that take a fee or percentage of transactions have risen by more than 60 per cent in the last three years, while “freemium” businesses have more than doubled. Productivity and business applications have increased 90 per cent while online games have “skyrocketed”, said Ms Sohoni. Read more
A who’s who of European technology entrepreneurs will be providing guidance and mentoring to a new generation of start-ups at this year’s Seedcamp. Founded by Saul Klein of Index Ventures and run by Reshma Sohoni, formerly of 3i and Softbank Capital, Seedcamp aims to build and support a community of European tech entrepreneurs, culminating in its main event in London this September.
The best-known entrepreneurs on this year’s advisor list are Niklas Zennstrom, founder of Skype, the internet telephony service, and more recently Joost, a web video provider; and Brent Hoberman of travel site Lastminute.com and, latterly, Mydeco, an online furniture retailer. Read more